Dear Hulu: Stop Treating Me Like A Criminal

from the if-you-don't-want-me-to-watch... dept

I mentioned recently that, for some idiotic reason, Hulu has stopped letting me view any of its content. That's because I use WiTopia's VPN service for security reasons. It seems that plenty of other WiTopia users are discovering this, as well, and are getting annoyed. The issue is that Hulu wants to block people from outside the US from viewing its content (for licensing reasons, even if they're pretty pointless in today's world). But, for some bizarre reason, it's been decided that anyone who uses any sort of VPN or proxy can't use Hulu at all because they might be coming from a foreign country. I'm sitting here in California and Hulu tells me I might be illegally accessing its content, so it doesn't allow it. So, instead, I don't give Hulu any additional ad views and I don't watch the content I wanted to watch. How does that help anyone? It appears to make everyone worse off. And it's not like WiTopia is some free anonymous proxy -- it's a pay-service that has been around for ages and is used regularly for WiFi security purposes. Many of its users are US-based (the company is based in the US, and most of its servers are in the US as well). So, because (gasp!) a small group of people outside the US might dare to catch a video (with ads!!), all of Witopia's US customers can't watch any content at all? This is the same ridiculous content industry mindset that drives so many people to unauthorized file sharing: they treat you as a criminal first and force you to prove you're not (or sometimes, don't even let you prove otherwise). The problem the industry is facing isn't due to some guy in Europe catching The Colbert Report from across the sea. It comes from turning off legitimate customers and users who are sick of being treated like crap.

Filed Under: content, security, video, vpn
Companies: hulu, witopia

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Nov 2009 @ 11:21pm

    Re: You're off on this one, Mike.

    Hulu has to license all (or just about all) of it's content. I've done zillion of these types of deals myself. Blocking VPNs (and "geo-filtering") is a standard clause in these contracts.

    And that makes it okay? I disagree. Anytime someone says "oh that's a standard clause" without giving a reason why, I know that they're full of it. There's simply no reason that Hulu should be agreeing to block VPN site access.

    Rights holders demand it. Sometimes they are legally bound to demand it since they have already sold distribution rights in some territories.

    Again, this has NOTHING to do with territories. I'm in the same state as Hulu. I understand regional blocking, but this is not regional blocking at all. This is VPN blocking because some tiny % of VPN users *might* possibly be from another country.

    So, if Hulu wants to have shows like "The Office" and movies like "Wind Talkers," then they've must agree to block people using VPNs and proxy servers.

    You never have to agree to anything. The content providers need Hulu more than Hulu needs them. Fine, let The Office not be on Hulu, and then watch what happens.

    It may or may not be stupid for rights holder to demand this condition, but blaming Hulu just isn't fair.

    Sure it is. They agreed to this (and the VPN blocking was just turned on recently -- it never used to be a problem). They should take the blame for agreeing to a ridiculous policy that makes no sense and does nothing to help them at all.

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